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Waste reduction program to be expanded district-wide

Nov. 21, 2016

Students celebrate waste reduction program during launch event Nov. 17Across the country, schools are working to keep their communities from becoming trash heaps. Whether driven to help the environment or stop careless tossing of resources in the classroom, on the playground or at home, students and staff across Monticello Central School District say they, too, are willing to help Mother Earth.

The district is proud to announce it is slated to receive $58,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Solid Waste Management Grant Program to help fund its expanding waste reduction program.

The funds will be distributed in the coming months to support Earth Day, Every Day, a district-wide program designed to encourage ecological waste reduction practices among students and staff.

The Earth Day, Every Day Program will be built upon the successful waste reduction pilot program that took place at Cooke Elementary School during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years through assistance and funding from Hospitality Green and Sullivan Renaissance.

In years past, the school would produce between 12 and 15 bags of lunch garbage per day. Since the pilot program’s inception two years ago, the school has reduced that amount to 4 bags of garbage and 2 bags of recyclables.

"[Students] drain their milk and put the milk carton in the recycling," Evadne Giannini of Hospitality Green said. "If they haven't eaten or touched their fruit, they put it in a separate bin, and it gets taken over to our shelter for the homeless or for backpack programs."

Funding from the grant will go toward offering training programs for staff to replicate and implement the pilot procedures and systems from Cooke throughout the district. With the support from the USDA grant, the district will be able to institutionalize and integrate the Earth Day, Every Day program in all five schools.

Funding will also be used to develop a “phase three” pilot program at Cooke Elementary School called Happy Healthy Eating, which will turn the schools lunch periods into a time for integrated community development, hands on environmental education, and peer to peer problem solving.

Officials hope to have the program running district-wide by February. More information will be posted to the district website and social media in the coming months.